Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chickamauga Battlefield Race Recap

This might be my favorite part about running blogs - reading the race recaps. It gets me excited to run my own future races, and more than once I've teared up as someone virtually crosses the finish line. But it's hard for me to remember the finer details of the race, especially mile by mile recounts. So I'll leave you with the big pictures about what I ate, wore, the course, and more.



The Night Before: My version of carbo-loading was sweet potato gnocchi and some homemade chocolate chip cookies. I had tons of lists for what to wear, bring, pack, etc. Hubby and I attempted to go to bed at 10, but that failed, because I was tossing and turning all night long (well, until 4:30). Thankfully I had slept really well the nights prior. 

Food/Fuel: Breakfast was my standard long run meal: oatmeal with honey and cinnamon. During the race I drank a combination of water and nuun, and ate two bags of honey stinger chews and 1/2 of a disgusting, sickeningly sweet Gu gel. I honestly tried to get it all down, but I couldn't. In retrospect, I wish I had brought along a few more calories - total consumed for the race was slightly less than 400.

Just Before Mile 20.


What I Wore: This was such a dilemma. The forecast was supposed to be for a 45 degree start, but it ended up being 32 - one of the coldest mornings we have had so far this year. I stick with shorts, a singlet and a windproof jacket. At the last minute hubby gave me his woolen beanie. So glad I had it - I only took it off at mile 14. The jacket stayed on until about mile 23. 

Pre-Race: The course was less than an hour from home, so I drove up the morning of. Packet pick-up was from 6-7 am, and the race started at 7:30. Traffic/parking was backed up and slow at the start, so I ended up being late. But pick-up was fast and easy, and the race ended up starting 20 minutes late anyway, a blessing for me since it gave me a chance to stand in line for the bathroom too. 

The Course: Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon is a double loop course, which I didn't mind as much as I thought I might. There were rolling hills throughout, but nothing too tough in my opinion. The course itself was beautiful, and full of historical landmarks, monuments and memorials. It was also littered with cannon, one of which was the "gunshot" for the start of the race - very cool. It was basically a trail race, without the trail, as 95% of the roads were paved.




Aid Stations/Support: The first aid station was 4 miles in, and I was pretty glad I carried my own handheld water bottle. They were situated about every 2-3 miles I would say, and I filled up my bottle a couple of times. They did offer some fruit and Powerade as well, but I didn't take either. Supporters were almost non-existant outside of the aid stations. Shuttles were taking family/friends around to say hello, but they were few and far between. I did see Kelsey at one point which was great, and I saw hubby at mile 14 and mile 20. 

Miles 1-20: Pretty good run! I slowed down throughout this race, which is obviously NOT what you want to do in a marathon. But until about 20 miles I felt good and was on track to finish well below 4:30. I decided to run with music for the first time outside, and I'm so glad I did. It was perfect and really kept me going.

Miles 20-26.2: This was the real race for me. I struggled so much, trying hard to maintain 11 minute miles and eventually 12's. I made bargains with myself - run for a song, then walk for a minute. I did make sure that my walk breaks were never more than a minute long, but they were pretty frequent. Most people around me were doing the same, and we played leapfrog back and forth.

Mile 20!


Post-Race: The setup after the race was great. As soon as I crossed the finish line I got my medal, as well as a framed bib because it was my first marathon, which was a really nice touch. There was a band, plenty of food (pizza/cookies/drinks) for the racers and a big open field to enjoy. I grabbed some pizza and water and walked around for a while...very, very slowly. I wanted to get out of there quickly though, so we only stayed for 10-15 minutes total after the race. Hubby and I went for lunch at a pizza buffet so I could get my money's worth of food! $6 for as much pizza as I wanted? Amazing.

The First of Many!

What I Learned: I think I made some pretty standard first-time mistakes. I definitely started out a little too fast, even though I told myself to run slowly. I would also bring along some more fuel next time. However - nothing was bad. I didn't make the time goal I set for myself, but nothing broke, I didn't have to run off into the bushes to pee, I didn't collapse....I call that a success. Next time, I want to focus on running hills a little more, and maybe a few more 20+ mile runs. 

All in all, this was one of the best experiences of my life. I'm so proud to say I have run a marathon! Thank you to everyone who gave me kind words of encouragement and congratulations yesterday, it means so much to me. 



Oh! And to everyone who asked how I can sit cross-legged in this picture and be ok? I have no idea. oddly enough, that's one of the most comfortable ways to sit right now. And yes, everything hurts today. Like- shoulders, back neck, legs, everything. Totally worth it

And the numbers, for anyone who wants them: My gun time is officially 4:37:20, and my Garmin time is 4:37:01 for 26.35. (I started it a little before the start line, plus...tangents? What's that?) Still no chip time, but in such a small race we are only dealing with a few seconds - 20 at most.

So...be honest. Does this recap make you want to run a marathon (or another one, for those who already have) or never, even attempt it?
I already want to run another one! Redemption, baby! In fact...I already have one on the cards. AND I may or may not have two free race entries to give away, so a couple of you can join me! Any guesses which one it is? I'll fill you in this week, I promise. 


What is your dream race? Anywhere, no qualifications.
There are so many, but most of all I would love to run the Istanbul Marathon. It crosses from Europe to Asia - how cool is that?

92 comments:

  1. Totally makes me want to run a marathon. I signed up for my first for May 2012. That race is where I had my first 1/2 so thought it was fitting. Great job on the race and 4:37 is a great time!!!! CONGRATS marathoner!!!!!

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  2. Sounds like it was a great day!! We all learn a lot from the first time and even after the second one I am still trying to figrue out how much fuel to bring with me because I always feel like I need more. Awesome job! Congrats on becoming a marathoner!

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  3. Ahhhh!! Loved reading this friend! It made me so excited to race again! You did a great job with the big points and ran really well! Th race always starts for me around mile 20 as well! So proud of you and excited for you! You did great and are officially a marathoner! I love that they gave you a framed bib! That is really cool!

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  4. Loved your recap, and that picture of you holding your framed bib. That was so cute. This recap did make me want to run another marathon. I have so many dream races, but a couple of them are the Disney Princess, and Nike Women's because you get a Tiffany's necklace for finishing! Good job on your first marathon!

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  5. I've been reading everyone's marathon recaps, and it's making me REALLY want to try one! I decided 2012 was the year for a HIM, but maybe I'll try a marathon in the fall :)

    Great job!!

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  6. Can't wait to hear which race it is! Great job on your first marathon :)

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  7. Loved reading your recap. Makes me a little more excited for my next one in a few months.

    The course looked beautiful.

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  8. Congrats on your marathon finish! They are totally addicting.

    I also want to run the Eurasia marathon. My husband has a job that will take us to a different country every two/three years, so I have big plans of running races everywhere we go (and we really want to be posted in Turkey at some point). I am currently in West Africa, but there are no races where I live, so I had planned on running the Casablanca marathon next year. (Morocco is one of the few direct flights from here.) Unfortunately no thanks to some health stuff I'm not sure it's going to happen this time, but I'm not giving up on my international marathon dream just yet!

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  9. Yes! Your recap made me want to run another marathon! I'm already signed up for the Georgia marathon in march, seems soooo far away. And I'm doing a half on thanksgiving (you should run it too:)
    Congrats! Your did a great job and I loved loved loved the recap.

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  10. Sounds like a great race! GREAT JOB!! Makes me more excited to run my next race!!

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  11. Congrats and great job for your first marathon! I haven't run a half yet so I need to accomplish that first before I can get to a marathon.

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  12. aaahhh congrats!!! you are a marathoner!! this makes me so excited for my upcoming race!....i havent even run mine yet and am scheming possible future ones, so if you giveaway an entry you better believe I'll be right there with you
    congrats! you accomplished so much! I hope you enjoy the rest of your marathon weekend!

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  13. Yes, this recap makes me want to run a marathon right now! Congrats again to you, so proud of your accomplishment. I think that your attitude is spot on about the race, you did amazing and there will always be up to go from where we start. Hope the soreness fades fast!

    As for the dream race, hands down it would be the London marathon...one day I'll be there.

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  14. Great job!! I was just talking with my running group this morning about spring marathons... I'm definitely ready to tackle my second full. (Last spring was my first, and it was NOT a good experience.) So, yes! You are making me want to do another one!

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  15. Love the recap Vanessa! Such a great job. I can't wait to read what your next marathon will be.

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  16. I'm so happy you had such a successful marathon!
    Congratulations again! :)

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  17. Loved your recap - especially liked your "sections" format.

    My dream race? The Nike Women's Marathon!!

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  18. That race looks gorgeous. I think its awesome that you had such a positive experience for your first marathon. 7 minutes away from goal time is amazing for that distance. Congratulations!
    As a side note, I went to a brewery tour here in Nashville yesterday. 1 guy was wearing his medal from this marathon, the other the race shirt- they had nothing but nice things to say about the course - told them all about you!

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  19. So proud of you! LOVED the recap. Thanks for sharing your first!!! It does make me think of running a full. I keep saying I dont want to but I keep thinking .. maybe 2013! My dream race would probably be Hawaii or NYC. Hope are feeling well. Relax, you SO deserve it!

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  20. The framed bib number really is a nice touch! I would love to have my first marathon number framed... when it happens :) Nice job on the race!

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  21. Congrats, this is awesome and you did an AMAZING job!!! I love recaps…I don't even have time to be on my computer right now and I got on just to check if you had posted yours yet :) I am so with you on reading other recaps, I am always amazed at how detailed they are for every mile and I feel like mine are a babbling mess of emotion :) I loved reading yours and I'm so glad it was such a great experience! So the big question now is when's the next one? Congrats and take it easy today…and you still get to eat anything you want, so enjoy!

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  22. Yes, your recap makes me want to run a marathon. I would love to run NYC. That's my dream marathon. Congrats on your first finish! Amazing!

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  23. I agree with sitting cross-legged. Anything but keeping the legs straight FEELS AMAZING. Congrats! That's a great time! Pizza buffet sounds fantastic. :)

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  24. This is a solid recap. I love it. I love that you got a framed bib, too.

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  25. Way to go, Vanessa!! You should be SO proud of yourself! Yes, your recap does make me want to run a marathon! I think I need to try a half before that, though! Haha..

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  26. What a great recap! So excited for you - fantastic job! I love how in all your pictures you are the ONLY person - so different from my marathon experiences. I'd like to try one like that. And that framed bib? Adorable! Mine is framed too, but I had to do it myself. How have I never thought of a pizza buffet after a marathon? Although, I am usually not very hungry until much later, like that evening. Maybe try drinking some calories, like with the powerade? This recap makes me so excited for my next marathon (shocking, right?). CONGRATS!!!

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  27. Congratulations again! I think you did awesome! The framed bib thing is pretty cool, never heard of any race doing anything like that. Your recap totally makes me want to run a race, recaps keep me going as well!

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  28. Congrats again Vanessa! I am so proud. This recap makes me want to run a marathon. I am only t 6-7mile runs and I find I have to FIGHT /w myself not to stop and take a walk break. So it's nice to know people DO walk a bit to recover in marathons :D

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  29. congrats on your first marathon! that is so amazing!!! :) I think running it on a battlefield adds to the awesomeness.

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  30. Love the recap!

    The recap doesn't make me want to run a marathon just because I doubt I would do well running that kind of distance.

    Tho' my sis commented if I could run 7.5 in Central Park and 10 miles when I got home 'just cause I felt like it' I could probably do 26.2 miles.

    I am so happy for you! Enjoy the success:-)

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  31. This is going to be my Georgia race for sure! I have so many dream races which is why I will be a 50 stater : ) Obviously Boston is at the top of my list. I am going to hold off on Massachusetts for a long time hoping to get in one day. I would also love to run a marathon in Australia or Africa or somewhere like that as well.

    I think you had a great first marathon!!! Hope you loved it and I am excited to see where you pick next.

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  32. I definitely want to run another marathon. I will do it to.

    NY is my dream race. I want to do it badly!

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  33. What a perfect recap Vanessa!! You definitely have inspired me all the more to run -- and crossing from Europe to Asia -- epic win -- that is a must girl! I'm still pushing for the Maui Marathon or even the Honolulu Marathon:)

    Congratulations on your very first marathon. I hope the empowered feeling sticks around the rest of the year!

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  34. So proud of you, Mrs Marathoner!!!

    We are both now officially marathoners. Pretty darn cool if you ask me :)

    My legs are way more tired today than they were yesterday. I have a feeling that the day is going to be full of lots of re-hydrating and resting.

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  35. Great job lady!! I LOVE that they framed your bib.. Never heard of a race doing that!! It sounds like you an I had the same first timer mistakes - fuel and too fast at first. :) I can't wait to hear about your next race plans! Enjoy the post Marathon feelings for now - accomplishment feelings I mean, not the aches hah

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  36. So proud of you! I get teared up reading race recaps too. Sometimes I can't read fast enough and I get so excited to find out what happens next. You did a fantastic job. The last picture of you is awesome.

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  37. That sounds like the PERFECT first marathon!! A framed bib is such a nice touch and a great way to remember the day.

    CONGRATS!!!!

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  38. congratulations!! so happy for you! and of course you still look great at mile 20! impressive. I've done two halves, am flirting with doing a full. Although I know I might die out there. But I bet there is nothing like that feeling crossing the finish line, so maybe, 2012 will be the year! congrats again!

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  39. I often make bargains with myself during races - and I fully expect to continue that tradition next week at the Philly Marathon :)

    Congrats on the strong finish - sounds like you had an amazing first marathon.

    I'm curious - why Istanbul? I've never been but we're planning on spending a month in Turkey next summer, so maybe I'll understand the magic then. My dream marathon? Berlin - which I actually discovered on a month-long backpacking adventure a few summers ago, so maybe Istanbul will top the list this time next year

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  40. Oh my!! I'm so proud of YOU!!! That must feel so amazing, and yes, it makes me want to run a marathon. I think you make it sound too easy, it would kill me I'm sure. CONGRATS GIRL. :)

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  41. This definitely makes me want to run a marathon!

    Crazy but I'm most comfortable sitting cross legged today too! Now I did only run half as far as you but I still have no idea how it's most comfortable to sit that way!

    Congratulations on a great race! You rocked it and I have a feeling that you're going to take Oprah out in Marathon #2!

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  42. Congrat on a great finish for your first marathon. Yes it make me want to run another one. In october after my second marathon I said I was done those last 6 miles kicked my butt. But here I am a month later and thinking about doing another on in March. I love the challenge of a marathon.

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  43. Great recap... you look so happy! Wonderful for you!

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  44. Congratulations! I think this was a great finish for a first marathon, especially one with limited crowd support! Very inspiring! I'm not sure if I'll run a marathon in 2012, but I know my third is somewhere in the relatively near future.

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  45. Well as of right now, I don't think I will run a marathon ever but my dad says that will change the more that I run half marathons...so we shall see, but I am so amazed at marathon runners so you go girl!

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  46. look at you at mile 20 looking like this was mile 2!
    yes it does make me want to run a marathon! you bet and with you would be great! ha ha!!!
    my dream is either Big Sur, I have the picture on my fridge or Montreal because well that is home.

    Congratulations again!
    Be proud!!!

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  47. Awesome job on your run girl! Sounds like you did an amazing job :)

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  48. Now I'm secretly sad I didn't frame my marathon bib and just tossed it! Maybe I'll save the one from Philly and pretend.

    Congratulations! You did such an awesome job!

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  49. Wow.

    Awesome Job.

    Well done.

    Thanks for the recap.

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  50. I think we all learn the hard way that those last 6 miles are the hardest, I'm pretty sure next weekend it will be taught to me all over again.

    CONGRATS!!! You are a marathoner!!!! WOHOOOOOOOO

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  51. Great recap and kudos for a race well run! I'd love to run a marathon with you, we seem to have similar paces. Can't wait to hear more. I definitely have another full in my future but haven't decided which yet. I think a destination race is in the cards for 2012. Rest up, you'll feel better in no time!

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  52. Well done again.
    It is such a significant achievement.
    I'm pretty sure we'll never forget our first marathons.
    Yes - that cross legged photo had me grimacing. My legs COMPLETELY seized the second I crossed the finish line.
    :-)

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  53. Great job! Miles 20-26.2 are the killer ones for me. Rest up and start planning the next one! You gotta beat Oprah!!

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  54. Congratulations!!!! Your dedication to your training and your goals were inspiring. So...which one is next?

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  55. So excellent..congrats to you!!

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  56. It sounds like you have a great attitude about your race! My first marathon was pretty rough and my second one was like a night and day difference.

    I hope the soreness goes away soon!

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  57. CONGRATULATIONS!!! You did an awesome job and you look great post race! So excited for you!!!

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  58. Amazing job, girl! Love love loved reading your recap!

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  59. Seriously...race recaps are the best!! Oh, those last miles are all about bargaining! Pizza makes the best post race fuel:) You are incredible and I loved hearing all about your FIRST marathon!

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  60. Congrats!!! Your race recap totally makes me want to run another marathon!

    I have ran 3 marathons and still am learning new things, what I should and shouldn't do before and during a marathon.

    Can't wait to hear what redemption marathon you are going to run! I wish it was one that I could run with you :) Maybe I will win one of the entries to make that come true!

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  61. Congratulations Vanessa, you are a champion!!! You have achieved something totally amazing, wear your medal with pride. Have you taken it off yet?

    Your recap just makes me want to run. I can't ever imagine myself running a marathon, but a 1/2 may be on the cards for late next year, maybe.

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  62. Congratulations again, reads like a really great race - and YAY for hubby & woolly hats :-)
    I Think crowd support would have made the race WAY better though, I CAN'T WAIT to run mine reading about yours ... bests I keep training.

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  63. Great job! It's so exciting to finish a marathon! You did awesome!

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  64. Congrats, Vanessa!! You did great and make me want to run another one so bad!! Good choice with the pizza! I made a lot of the same first-timer mistakes at my first full too. Also, the last six miles are by far the worst ever. My legs were really not cooperating during those miles!!! I'm so happy you had an excellent race. Enjoy your next few days to recover :)

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  65. Your recap makes me miss Chickamauga. I even had a dream this weekend that I was about to run it again. I woke up happy not to have to go through it again though! You did great... congrats!

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  66. what a great attitude and looks like an awesome race to experience :)

    HOW COOL! and great pictures too! You look great! Why is it that ALL of my race photos look like I'm dying??! LOL!

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  67. Congrats girl!!! Definitely more 'good' than 'not so good'. That pizza looks AMAZING and I love that they gave you a framed bib to commemorate your first. Nice to see you talking about the next one already. :)

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  68. You ran and ran and ran and ran for 26.2 MILES! I am so proud of you! GREAT recap... uuughhh so proud of you!

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  69. Congratulations!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I knew you would do great! Your recap was great! Does it make me want to run a marathon? Hmmm I'm toying with the idea. But, for now, it's just an idea haha!

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  70. Congrats! That's a great time, though let's face it - any time for that many miles is super inspiring!

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  71. Congratulations!! That course looks beautiful.

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  72. Great race recap! Looks like a good one! Definitely makes me want to run another one... if even just for pizza.
    I have so many marathons I would love to do one day. Portland, Boston, NY, Marine Corp. I don't know about many in other countries, but maybe the Great Wall marathon :).

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  73. You are a rock star - loved this post. Congratulations & you're so inspiring. How do you look so good after a marathon?!!

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  74. Congrats on your race! Your recap was great, too. I like how you broke down each little section instead of recapping every single detail or every single. The post was nice and neat and easy to read! Hope you get to relax now :)

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  75. So proud of you! All of the pain is most definitely worth it. My back was killing me after my marathon and it totally caught me off guard. Just goes to show you that it's a whole body workout!

    We made a lot of the same mistakes for our marathons. Next time I'm definitely going to use more fuel, too. Here's to redemption in 2012!

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  76. This is amazing!! Every time I see people's posts about marathons, I really want to run one. But my legs, hips, and knees are so sore after half marathons that I really think I would injure myself. You are a freaking champion. And that pizza, sweet potato gnocchi, and well... all the food stuff really got me excited. I have a problem.

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  77. Sorry I am so late to congratulate you, Vanessa! Way to go! I have to agree those last 6.2 miles are the worst. :) Can't wait to hear what you have in store next!

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  78. Woohoo!! Nice job!!

    The thing with marathons is that they become addicting. Once you have had that endorphine rush you just keep getting excited to get it back.

    My dream marathon is the big five in South Africa!
    Sarah

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  79. Ahhhhh I love it! Everytime I read a recap like this I'm like "I wonder if I could do it too?" You are a running MACHINE and I am so excited for you!! I agree with you on the too little fuel part, only because I have done that a few times as well. But I'd rather be a little underfueled than a little overfueled and sluggish I guess! We'll get it right eventually, won't we... :-)

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  80. congrats congrats! You did amazing. And yes you HAVE to do another marathon! I think the first is the hardest for everyone :).

    I want to run the Athens marathon...the first one!

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  81. I really did read this this weekend but had to dash out before I could comment.

    You did so well!! Congrats on an awesome marathon!

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  82. I can't wait to run my first marathon!

    I definitely need a lot more training but your recap is so inspirational!

    Great job on finishing your first marathon. You rock!

    PS- I think it's super cool that you got a framed bib!

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  83. GREAT job! I am so proud of you!! You look so happy -- and NOT like you just ran 26.2 miles!

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  84. Fabulous race MARATHONER! Congrats!

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  85. Better late than never! I read your recap on my iphone reader while traveling and couldn't comment but I wanted to take the time to wish you a HUGE congrats! Welcome to the family of 26.2 crazies! Sounded like a pretty good race for you, except for those stupid last 6! You pushed through though and that is really what matters and gives you the strength to know you can do it again. Crazy how we go through so much and forget about all the hardships once we cross that finish line and immediately want to sign up for another race!

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  86. i've said it on multiple outlets but HAVE to make it official again here: CONGRATS!!! i luved reading ur recap, and like u said, u can check that to-do off ur list and u've got the first one done!! great job out there and just as great of a job for being able to sit cross-legged?!?! :)

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